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Traveling After Political Asylum

If you have been granted political asylum, you must obtain a Refugee Travel Document (RTD) before leaving United States. This is also true for any family members who received asylee status as a derivative of your application.

An RTD may be used for temporary travel abroad and is required for readmission to the United States as an asylee. The RTD is similar in appearance to a U.S. passport and in most cases can be used for travel in place of a passport. If you are an asylee and you do not obtain an RTD you may not be permitted to re-enter the United States. You may also be placed in removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge.

How do I Get a Refugee Travel Document?

You will need to file a completed Form I-131, Application for Travel Document along with applicable fee, photos and supporting documentation including a photocopy of the decision granting asylee status.

How Long is the Refugee Travel Document Valid?

The RTD is valid for up to 1 year.

When should I apply for the RTD?

You should file your application for a refugee travel document at least 120 days before you plan to leave the United States. You must be present in the United States at the time you file the application and until you have had your biometrics taken. Once you file Form I-131, USCIS will send you an appointment to go to the nearest Application Support Center (ASC) where USICS officers will collect your fingerprints and other relevant information. You must appear at the designated ASC, in person. USCIS may deny your application if you leave the United States before you have your biometrics collected.

You are not required to be present in the United States at the time USCIS approves the application. If you plan to leave the United States after having filed the application, but before it is approved, you may request that USCIS send your RTD to the location of your choice - U.S. Embassy, Consulate, or any of the overseas DHS office locations.

Can I travel back to the country where I experienced past persecution or claim a fear of future persecution?

It is not advisable to travel back to the country where you experienced persecution. If you travel to your home country, USCIS may feel that you no longer fear being in your country or that you committed a fraud in your application and it may terminate your asylum status.

Please do not take any statement made in this paper, or in these associated pages, documents, comments, answers, e-mail, articles or other communications as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The responses and information are intended for general discussion purposes only. They should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice specific to your case, please consult an attorney with experience in this area of the law. The professionals at Julie C. Ferguson PA have extensive experience representing people seeking political asylum and we would welcome the opportunity to consult with you about the strategy most appropriate to a particular case.

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